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Wise Coastal Practices for Sustainable Human Development Forum

Environmental impact assessment/mobilising the public.

Posted By: Haraka Gaudi.
Date: Monday, 19 July 1999, at 5:23 p.m.

In Response To: Environmental impact assessment and capacity building. (Maria Rosario Partidario)

Thank you Dr. Partidario and my 'Kababayan' Miguel for your wonderful words of wisdom. It is gratifying to hear from my senior and mentor Miguel. ' Salamat po!'

Firstly, let me respond to Maria Rosario's comments (Environmental impact assessment and capacity building).

EIA IN PAPUA NEW GUINEA: We do have Environment Impact Assessment in PNG, although in practice these are conducted and written up by foreign consultants hired by multinational corporations investing in the country. The EIA's are usually done hastily (in 3-6 months) to satisfy the national government's requirement for granting approval of major developmental projects. These reports are usually not verified by a third party and are basically 'just a regulatory tool of government' as Miguel stated. The Social Impact Studies I alluded to form parts of the overall EIA exercise, although the former would focus on 'issues of clean environment and conservation of cultural and natural heritage for the benefit of humanity' as was the observation of the wise practice from Samoa, (Using traditional checks and balances in sustainable development / Samoa). EIA in PNG is a legal requirement, however, its implementation is arbitrary and not strictly enforced. One can therefore observe that investors are primarily interested in economic returns in the shortest possible time frame and that issues of wp for sustainable development are low down their priority listing.

From both Maria Rosario's and Miguel's (Environmental impact assessment as a management tool) comments, I am convinced that EIA in PNG should become a management tool to 'ease up' the degradation of our environment as Miguel puts it. The six points raised by him for the success of Puerto Galera are hereby acknowledged. Miguel's comments on the World Bank and other funding agencies are spot on. Maria Rosario's suggestions complement those of Miguel and her three points are the way to go in PNG.

MOBILISING THE PUBLIC ESPECIALLY THE YOUTH: My own approach in my wp case study in Motu Koitabu villages in Port Moresby is through public awareness to create a reactive front to major development projects taking place (point 3 of Maria Rosario's suggestion). I have just participated in a week long Urban Youth Convention organised by the United Church in which 600 youths from Urban Regions in PNG converged in Hanuabada village to deliberate on the theme 'Tomorrow's Youth Today.' I was given two, 3 hours sessions to present my research findings on 'Major Development Projects in Port Moresby: Impacts on Motu Koitabu villages in the Social Concerns Sector.' I believe I did create awareness among the youth who in turn are now seeing the need to inform others, hopefully increasing local reactions to the kinds of development that undermine local resources and local environmental quality. They are now questioning the relevance of 5-6 major development projects concurrently in operation in Port Moresby at a cost of around (K1.5 billion) Kina (approximately US$600 million). These projects are within 2 square miles radius around the Motu Koita villages of Baruni, Tatana and Hanuabada in Port Moresby City.

As a result of my participation, the organisers of the convention have passed a resolution to stage a general youth rally in one of the Motu-Koitabu villages in the immediate future. Youth, church elders, the clergy, Motu Koita local level government councillors and the general public from the 7 Motu Koita villages will be invited to attend. By popular demand I have been asked to address our problems.

Thank you all for your interest and wise advice.

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